Javi Gracia must have been the only one surprised at Watford exit
Over more recent years, I’ve become fascinated by the number of times some clubs opt to make managerial changes. Only this morning, Dino Maamria has lost his job at Stevenage after a difficult start, the same Dino Maamria who saw his team end last season with a terrific run that all but got them into the play-offs.
Of the current 92 clubs in the Premier and Football Leagues, 51 have made at least one change in the last 12 months and by tomorrow that will go up to 52 with Michael Duff having been appointed Cheltenham manager on 10th September 2018. Only five managers have been in their current roles for five years or more. The five are Jim Bentley (Morecambe), Gareth Ainsworth (Wycombe), Eddie Howe (Bournemouth), Sean Dyche (Burnley) and Mauricio Pochettino (Spurs). Bentley, the longest serving, is coming up to eight and a half years in charge.
Stevenage are the seventh club to make a change since the start of this season. Of the previous six, Huddersfield and Southend are still looking for replacements for Jan Siewert and Kevin Bond while there have been new appointments made at Macclesfield, Bolton, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford. Seven could become eight later today with Lincoln about to begin their search for a new manager with Danny Cowley expected to fill that vacancy at Huddersfield.
Watford made their change two days ago. Javi Gracia (pictured above), less than a year into a four and a half year contract that also included an additional three year option, went after a difficult start. He’s been replaced by former boss Quique Sanchez Flores (shown below during his first spell in charge at Vicarage Road).
Gracia said yesterday that he was surprised and, in some ways, he has every reason to be. He took Watford to the FA Cup Final last season, albeit it’s a day they probably won’t wish to remember fondly, but he also took them to an eleventh place finish, their highest ever in the Premier League.
“After the unexpected announcement about the termination of my contract after only four matches, I want to express my surprise after completing the best season in Watford’s history,” Gracia said.
He added: “I respect this decision and I’d like to reassure the excellent relationship I have with Gino Pozzo and Filippo Giradi, and it is not going to change despite my abrupt exit from the club.”
When Giampaolo Pozzo and his son Gino bought Watford in the summer of 2012, the club was managed by Sean Dyche who had just completed his first season in charge of the club. They quickly dispensed with his services and brought in Zola. History suggests that appointing Zola is not always the best move to make but he did last until December of the following year.
He has since been followed by a string of managers, some of whom I must admit I’d forgotten. Giuseppe Sannino was next. Then came Oscar Garcia who departed through ill health after 27 days. His replacement, Billy McKinlay, lasted even less time; he was sacked after eight days.
Slavisa Jokanovic replaced McKinlay and he was the manager who got them promoted in 204/15. He was not given an opportunity in the Premier League. Out he went that summer with Flores coming in. They’ve since had Walter Mazzarri and Marco Silva prior to Gracia and now the return of Flores.
They made a good start to the 2017/18 season under Silva which prompted Everton to try and take him to Goodison Park. Watford were having none of it. CEO Scott Duxbury made it clear that Watford do not change managers during a season. They have done twice since, Silva went in the following January after a collapse in form that Duxbury suggested was down to Everton’s interference, and now they’ve done likewise with Silva.
That’s an incredible turnover of managers, or head coaches as Watford prefer to call them, with Sanchez becoming the eleventh in charge since the initial takeover by the Pozzo family. Yes eleven, looking at our club, that number would take us back to Brian Miller. It’s not just the managers they have to pay up either; Watford confirmed that all of Gracia’s staff were having their contracts terminated too as Flores brings his own men in.
It’s the first Premier League departure of the season and there is no doubt there will be more. Who will be next? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pochettino seem to be the favourites right now but if there is no improvement soon at Vicarage Road it could very well be Flores who is already, at least, only one week away from reaching McKinlay’s eight days in charge.Share this page :